Matthew 6:16-18, “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.“
Fasting is something that is so misunderstood but thankfully, Jesus gives us the explanation for what to do. Fasting comes from the Greek word νηστεύω nēsteúō, nace-tyoo’-o; to abstain from food (religiously):—fast. The process of fasting is all about getting on a new level with God. This is the guide on how to properly fast.
When you fast. Jesus did not say “if we fast.” Jesus said “when you fast.” This means that this is a requirement for those that follow Jesus. We must fast in order to have a closer walk with Jesus. If we forget about food or preparing food, this makes it easier for us to devote more time to spend getting “spiritual food.” The food of the Word of God.
Do not be like the hypocrites. Hypocrites are people who say one thing and do another. We are never to be like hypocrites, regardless of what they are doing. Jesus wants us to say what we mean and do what we say. It is so important that we are purposeful in all that we say and do.
With a sad countenance. So many people wander about with sad faces. They do not show the joy that Jesus gives us. Jesus has done so much for us to act sad and down. Sometimes people look sad to get attention from others. They want people to care about them and ask them what is wrong. They do this for the wrong reason. They allow pride to intervene and control them. They need the attention and that is not of God.
They disfigure their faces. People looking for attention will also do things to themselves for attention as well, include destroying parts of their body to get people to notice them. This is also prideful and is sending the wrong message to others. In order to show the love of Jesus, we must take a step back and not draw attention to ourselves in a bad way. We are to be a light to the Light. We are to guide people to the One True God.
That they may appear to men to be fasting. There are so many ways to make oneself look worse than they are. Not taking care of your body is something that God takes seriously. Our bodies are temples for God and God wants us to care for ourselves. Fasting does not mean that someone has to look like “death warmed over.” We do not have to look sad, mad or angry. We need to look joyous and happy, as fasting is a good thing, straight from God Himself.
They have their reward. The reward for those that draw attention to themselves is the attention of men. This is called men-pleasing. It is all about looking the part of the poor person who is doing something to themselves. The glory is taken away from God and given to the person instead. Instead of the focus going directly on God, it goes on man. The reward is what can be found on Earth and not in Heaven above.
Anoint your head and wash your face. Instead of disfigurement, there is should be an anointing of the head to make the head pure and washing the face to care for the body. This is making sure that God is seen in His glory as we are in the image in God. He is the One True God who created the Heavens and the Earth. We should show care to the creation of God that we all are.
That you do not appear to mean to be fasting. When fasting, we should do it and not show it. We should not even talk about it. Fasting is about communication between God and an individual. This is not a group exercise. This is not a “social media experiment.” This is about talking to God and laying out all that You are to Him. God already knows our thoughts and desires but wants us to tell Him. Fasting is also a way to find out more from God regarding a big life decision. Prayer is one way but sometimes fasting is required to truly hear God.
To your Father who is in the secret place. Our fasting should be shown to God who is in Heaven. God is in a secret place and that is why we should find a secret place to do our fasting. Fasting is all about spending time with God and this should be done away from the hustle and bustle of life. We should find a place out of the flow of the house. For me, it is in my office, without computers, cell phones or other distractions.
Your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. God rewards those who do not make an open show of fasting. We should not fast to get a reward though. The point of fasting is to talk to God, not get some payout. God wants to bless us but He wants to know where our heart is and where our focus is. Our heart and focus should be on God alone. We should give in to the worldly desires when we are talking to God. That is why when we pray, we close our eyes. It is about not looking around and noticing everything. This is about us and God. Fasting, like prayer, is about God.
Thank You for the blessing of fasting. Help us to learn how to deny ourselves and focus on You more. You deserve all our attention and that involves us tuning the world out and thinking only about You. You have so much to tell us and we should always turn to You. We need You so much and we need to come to You instead of anyone else.
In Your name we pray,